‘He loved to paint’: devastation in Thailand after nursery massacre

By Noel Caballero and Sirin Mungcharoen

Uthai Sawan, Thailand, Oct 7 (EFE).- Clutching her three-year-old nephew’s toys, Vimol Sootfanpitak tearfully remembers the little boy who was one of the 22 children killed on Thursday in a mass shooting and stabbing that left at least 37 people dead in the northeastern Thai province of Nong Bua Lamphu.

“He liked the food I cooked and from time to time I gave him presents,” the 40-year-old tells Efe.

Sootfanpitak is just one of the many people mourning outside the kindergarten where the massacre took place and where relatives of the victims and residents of the quiet village of Uthai Sawat have gathered to lay flowers and pay tribute to the deceased.

“He was polite, intelligent and always smiling, (…) he had a lot of imagination and liked to paint,” Sootfanpitak continues, showing a drawing her nephew had only recently done.

“He would help his blind grandfather and take him to the bathroom at night,” the three-year old’s aunt, Puangpan Pattapotanang, adds.

Early on Thursday afternoon, 34-year-old former police officer Panya Kamrab burst into the nursery and carried out a violent gun and knife attack, killing mostly children while they were napping, authorities said.

He then fled in a white pickup truck, sparking a manhunt, and went to his house where he murdered his wife and son before committing suicide.

Among the fatalities in the nursery, which catered for children from the age of two to five, was a pregnant teacher. Another 15 were wounded, eight of them seriously.


Just 24 hours after the tragedy, a group of devastated relatives of the victims sat on plastic chairs outside the kindergarten waiting to be called by representatives of the ministry of justice to give out their details.

The officials, some buried under a pile of documents, are collecting “evidence” in order to provide relatives of the victims a compensation fund of 110,000 baht (some $2,940) per victim.

“I don’t know how the government puts a price on a person’s life,” a family member tells Efe.


Uthai Sawan is a sleepy town of about 6,300 people in Thailand’s impoverished, rural north-east, where most of the villagers are farmers.

“We didn’t expect something like this to happen here. I feel depressed and sad about the death of the children,” Tu Despok, a local resident, says.

To help the families and witnesses of the massacre come to terms with the tragedy, the Thai ministry of health has deployed a team of psychologists to help them process the traumatic event.

“Family members and witnesses are considered high-risk patients. First we are offering them counseling to talk about what happened. They have been brutally shocked by the event,” a team leader, who asked to remain anonymous, tells Efe.


In the early afternoon on Friday, some of the victims’ coffins were brought to the Ratsamakkee temple for heart-wrenching funeral rites attended by a number of grieving relatives.

Related Articles

Back to top button